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The Harris Fine Arts Center marks its 50th anniversary this school year with concerts and exhibitions ranging from “The Marriage of Figaro,” a full-scale opera, to “The Winter’s Tale,” a Shakespeare theatre performance. The HFAC will also hold an alumni lecture series and has produced a commemorative magazine in honor of the building and the lives it has shaped since its construction.
The year-long events schedule will lead up to the HFAC 50th Gala on April 3, 2015, which will include art exhibits, film screenings, food, dances and entertainment.
Since its dedication, the HFAC has undergone several transformations but still holds its artistic, modern charm. In honor of the HFAC’s 50th anniversary, here are three H-FACTS about the building:
1. WSC and HFAC dedicated same day
President Joseph Fielding Smith dedicated both the Harris Fine Arts Center and the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center on April 3, 1965.
The HFAC received its name from former BYU President Franklin S. Harris, who once said, “I use science to make a living and art to live.” Harris organized the College of Fine Arts in 1925 and appointed as dean Gerrit de Jong Jr., for whom the de Jong Concert Hall is named.
2. Navigating the HFAC
The building is home to five theaters, the de Jong concert hall being the largest, seating more than 1,200 people, and houses more than 35 emphases within the fine arts majors.
After bids for construction were opened, the costs exceeded the approved budget, and plans had to be scaled back by half-an-inch per foot. Elements of the building design were adjusted or even eliminated.
Students can become disoriented while navigating the HFAC’s spacious galleries and labyrinthine corridors, where the network of dark practice rooms has been fondly called “the catacombs.” Students even claim there are hidden staircases and secret windows in the building.
“Finding anything in the HFAC is an adventure,” said Hollie Pratt, a music education major from Winterpark, Florida. “It’s like the moving staircases at Hogwarts.”
The HFAC offers countless areas to escape the commotion of campus in relatively unknown, quiet areas. Other areas are not so quiet, like “The Slab,” located on the third floor of the south staircase, which is a popular place to socialize.
3. Real world experience
Kenzie Ottley, a theatre art studies major from Highland, Utah, helped create the lighting for the production of “The Selfish Giant” on campus this summer, an opportunity she enjoyed.
Music students have the opportunity to use practice rooms located on the second floor. These rooms are mainly reserved for music major students, but anyone may use them when not reserved.
“There is always beautiful music playing somewhere,” said Jordan Reynolds, a vocal performance major from Fountain Valley, California.
Upcoming events and performances
Jeff Martin, the arts manager of BYU Arts Production, is in charge of the performing arts in the college and knows the plays, musicals and performances like no one else. “There are over 500 performances a year in every genre, style and medium,” Martin said. “That guarantees that there is something that will appeal to everyone.”
Sept. 17–20, Evidance: An annual showcase of BYU’s finest dancers, featuring a salute to the Ballroom Dance Company, Contemporary Dance Theatre, International Folk Dance Ensemble, Living Legends and Theatre Ballet. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday. Ticket prices range from $8 to $15. The performance will be held in the de Jong Concert Hall.
Sept. 19, faculty artist Kerilyn Johnson: An evening of jazz, country, classical music and musical theatre. The free show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Nelke Theatre.
Sept. 19, Sundance Trio: Geralyn Giovannetti, on the oboe; Christian Smith, on the bassoon; and Jed Moss, on the piano, perform “Up and Away (Story of a Balloon)” by Alyssa Morris. This free show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Madsen Recital Hall on the fourth floor.
Sept. 22, Classical Greek Theatre Festival: Participants will perform the play “Hecuba.” The show will start at 5:00 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. Ticket prices range from $8 to $11.
Apr. 3, 2015, HFAC 50th Gala: The event will recognize the HFAC, Museum of Art and Wilkinson Student Center with student art and performances.
“(The School of Music’s) national reputation … is often less understood on campus than it is across the country,” said Don Peterson, director of bands in the School of Music. “This showcase is a great event for students and community to get a taste of what these outstanding ensembles have to offer.”
Visit arts.byu.edu to find descriptions of upcoming shows and this year’s performance schedule.